My land is bordered by a lot of wooded areas — which my livestock seem to prefer when compared with the pastures. But having so many woods means that I love to talk about taking care of trees that need some TLC, as well as cleaning up branches and other deadwood. So we’ve written about things like axes and log splitters in the past, and for good reason: Almost all of our winter heat is supplied by firewood. But to help take care of the land, we also appreciate a good wood chipper, and the mulch that it produces is perfect for weed suppression and erosion control in some of our most threatened areas. The best wood chipper for our situation is vital.
When identifying the wood chipper that meets your needs, you need to look at how large a diameter branch or tree it can handle (for example, it should say something like 3-inch diameter limbs), as well as leaves, twigs, and clippings. A chipper may be gasoline or diesel powered, and the resulting chips can be used as mulch, compost, or pathway material.
You should also make sure that a chipper is easily portable, whether you’re hauling it with compact pickup truck, utility vehicle, small tractor … or by hand. In pretty much all instances, you’re going to want to be able to take the chipper to the wood, not haul the wood to the chipper. This will help immensely with any cleanup, landscaping, or site development work you’re doing.
Lastly, we can’t overlook safety, and while many of the best wood chippers on the commercial-grade market will have stop bars or other functionalities to help keep operators safe, smaller residential-level machines don’t always have quite the same measures in place — but we definitely need to be awake of the hazards around us and not have any ghastly injuries to deal with.
We’ve used several chipper/shredders over the years — some we’ve owned, others were rented or borrowed from a neighbor. When ordering online, there is likely going to be minimal assembly (like wheels), but it’s super easy and nothing to worry about.
Based on our experience, here are the 4 best wood chippers for most rural properties:
DR Power Pro 400 Chipper/Shredder
We’ve gotten to get a lot of up-close time with a variety of DR machinery, and the DR Pro 400 truly stands out. It it capable of handling 4-inch diameter trees, with 11.5 ft. lbs. of torque from its Briggs & Stratton engine. Plus, with double the number of shredding hammers (12), this wood shredder grinds material to 1/12 its original volume.
The built-in handles on the wood shredder machine offer easy maneuvering, and it can be started both by manual or electric means.
Yardmax Chipper Shredder
When it comes to premium compact wood chippers, the Chipper Shredder from Yardmax should be your go-to. It has an efficient self-feeding system, suitable for branches and twigs up to 3 inches in diameter, which can be loaded directly in the machine without extra prep or pruning.
The placement of the blades make maintenance on the machine easy, and it features a Briggs & Stratton 6.5 HP OHV engine that provides 9.50 ft. lbs. of torque with cleaner, more fuel-efficient results. Plus, the casings are steel and everything about this machine is durable and ready for the most rugged tasks.
And its size makes it amazingly easy to maneuver.
DK2 Power Kinetic Chipper
Here you’re hitting the high end of the price range, but if you need the added oomph, this should be money well spent. The DK2 Power Kinetic Chipper has a 14-hp electric start on its 429cc Kohler Command Pro Commercial gas engine. Its four-quad filtration and cyclonic chipper shredder runs at a high 3600 rpm, and it is equipped with 12-inch high speed cutting blades and auto adjust kinetic drum chamber. The kinetic chipper pulverizes tree limbs up to 6.25 in diameter, as well as smaller brush.
The heavy duty blades are double-edge cut, reversible and replaceable. The tool free dual swing chutes and dual lock clamps on the kinetic chipper quickly open for easy drum access. D.O.T. rated tires and a 48-inch extended axle for unlevel ground and towing stability. The kinetic chipper also features feed chute dual handles for easy equipment moving.
GreatCircleUSA Wood Chipper Shredder
When you want to ground it up small, this GreatCircleUSA Wood Chipper Shredder is made to take your yard waste down to 1/15th its size. It’s a 3-in-1 machine, with the top hopper for 1/2-inch max volume chipping/shredding; the side chute for 3-inch max branches and limbs; and the attachable leaf vacuum for mulching/
Its powerful recoil starting 7 hp horizontal 4-stroke Single Cylinder OHV Gas Powered Engine handles the wood with ease. And it’s easy to hook up to small tractors or utility vehicles.